will encounter along the way, and also to go back to the source if one feels lost attimes...It is also vital to always keep moving. The risk otherwise is to conﬁne oneself in arelatively small area of extreme technical specialization, thus shrinking one’s per-ception of the mathematical world and of its bewildering diversity.The really
in that respect is that while so many mathematicianshave been spending their entire scientiﬁc life exploring that world they all agree onits contours and on its connexity: whatever the origin of one’s itinerary, one day oranother if one walks long enough, one is bound to reach a well known town
forinstance to meet elliptic functions, modular forms, zeta functions. “All roads leadto Rome” and the mathematical world is “connected”.In other words there is just “one” mathematical world, whose exploration is thetask of all mathematicians and they are all in the same boat somehow.Moreover exactly as the existence of the external material reality seems undeniablebut is in fact only justiﬁed by the coherence and consensus of our perceptions,the existence of the mathematical reality stems from its coherence and from theconsensus of the ﬁndings of mathematicians. The fact that proofs are a necessaryingredient of a mathematical theory implies a much more reliable form of “con-sensus” than in many other intellectual or scientiﬁc disciplines. It has so far beenstrong enough to avoid the formation of large gatherings of researchers around some“religious like” scientiﬁc dogma imposed with sociological imperialism.Most mathematicians adopt a pragmatic attitude and see themselves as the ex-plorers of this “mathematical world” whose existence they don’t have any wish toquestion, and whose structure they uncover by a mixture of intuition, not so foreignfrom “poetical desire”
, and of a great deal of rationality requiring intense periodsof concentration.Each generation builds a “mental picture” of their own understanding of this worldand constructs more and more penetrating mental tools to explore previously hiddenaspects of that reality.Where things get really interesting is when unexpected bridges emerge betweenparts of the mathematical world that were previously believed to be very far remotefrom each other in the natural mental picture that a generation had elaborated. Atthat point one gets the feeling that a sudden wind has blown out the fog that washiding parts of a beautiful landscape.I shall describe at the end of this paper one recent instance of such a bridge. Beforedoing that I’ll take the concept of “space” as a guide line to take the reader througha guided tour leading to the edge of the actual evolution of this concept both in al-gebraic geometry and in noncommutative geometry. I shall also review some of the“fundamental” tools that are at our disposal nowadays such as “positivity”, “coho-mology”, “calculus”, “abelian categories” and most of all “symmetries” which willbe a recurrent theme in the three diﬀerent parts of this text.It is clearly impossible to give a “panorama” of the whole of mathematics in areasonable amount of write up. But it is perfectly possible, by choosing a precise
as emphasised by the French poet Paul Valery.